Yoga by itself can be quite an intense workout; Ashtanga being my favourite. However, I also realise the importance of weight training to preserve and improve the muscular strength of our body. This is exactly when I decided to incorporate some weights during my regular yoga practice, and it does wonders. I normally use hand weights and at time wrist weights for that extra element of strength, body awareness and stamina, along with the already challenging asanas.
Yoga for weight loss could be made more effective by simply adding the challenge of dumbbells or wrist weights to your everyday practice. This yoga plus weight training is a great way to boost your metabolism and a well-planned workout could hit every major muscle group of your body. When you add weights while practicing yoga for weight loss, it intensifies the focus on your breath and heightens the mind-body synchronization.
The effects of practising yoga with weights are:
- Improved bone heath and density.
- Improved cardiovascular health.
- Increased core strength and joint stability.
- Help build lean muscle mass.
- Improves balance and concentration.
- Improves and encourages proper breathing.
Before I get to the asanas, let me make it clear that every yoga practice has a “set intention” the moment the practitioner gets on the mat, and it varies from person to person. The intention behind this article is purely chart a path for those who want to practice yoga for weight loss.
Listed below are few yoga asanas that you could do with light weights:
Vrksasana- Tree Pose with bicep curls
Vrksasana is one of the most practiced poses in yoga. You can kick it up a notch by adding some bicep curls to it while balancing on one leg. You could start with sets of 3, so that you get used to the balancing and then switch sides and repeat.
Doing the traditional asana itself is quite demanding when it comes to core strength and balance. Now, with weights added to it, needless to say you need much more core strength and when you drop the weights you will definitely feel like a breeze. This form can give you a tighter core faster than your regular sit-ups.
Virabhadrasana I -Warrior Pose l with Rows
While doing this asana, start with a regular Downward Facing Dog pose. The weights need to be placed on the mat on both sides. From the downward dog bring your right foot forward and set it between the hands. Make sure that your right knee is stacked over your right foot. Press your left hip forward towards the centre of the mat. Slightly adjust you left foot towards the outside of the mat and maintain the angle of the left foot at a 45 degree.
Grab the dumbbell from the side off the mat and hold it next to either side of the right knee. Hover over the knee by hinging slightly at the waist. To start with the rows: exhale and bend the elbow, making sure that it is tucked to the side and pull it back as far as you can. Inhale and lower the dumbbell. Repeat it for at least 5 times, if you are doing it for the first time and switch sides.
Virabhadrasana ll- Warrior Pose ll with Weights
Here, start with the traditional Virbhadrasana ll pose. Make sure that your form and posture is accurate. Hold the pose for 10 seconds.
Grab the weights in each hand and bring them to the T-position, palms facing upward. On an inhale straighten the legs and bring your arms above your head, straightening the legs and touching the weights to each other. Exhale and return to the original position and bring the weights down. Inhale and lift up again and continue this for at least 10 times and then switch sides.
Virabhadrasana lll- Warrior pose lll with Single Dead Lift
Prepare yourself and get into the Virabhadrasana lll. Make sure that your body is properly aligned for the pose. Maintain the pose for a couple of seconds so that you are more grounded and get a sense of balance. Do it on both the sides.
Once you ease into the pose, grab the weights. If you feel that you are unable to balance, then skip the weights. If are you are comfortable in the pose then hold the weights in both hands, keeping the hands downward towards the floor. On an inhale, slowly bring the right knee up to the chest and come into the standing position. Exhale and slowly extend back to Virabhadrasana lll and lower the hands towards the floor. This is slightly advanced. Hence, I would suggest you take this one slow and do not repeat more than 3 times initially. Switch sides and repeat.
Sethubandasana -Bridge pose with Chest Press
Prepare yourself and get into the bridge pose. Repeat the pose for a few times so that you get accustomed to the movement. Now, take a dumbbell in each hand and bring it towards your chest with the elbows flaying outwards. On an inhale, push the dumbbells upwards, making sure that the hands are just above the chest. Exhale and bring the elbows back to the mat. Repeat this for at least 10-12 times.
Navasana-Boat pose to Canoe Pose with weights
Get into Navasana. Make sure to settle in the pose by lifting through the chest, squeezing the shoulder blades together and carefully yet strongly balancing on your tailbone. Repeat the pose a couple of times so that you get accustomed and feel comfortable in the pose.
Now, take a dumbbell and place the bar in between your feet firmly. Take another dumbbell and hold it in your hands. Take a moment and make sure you can balance the pose with the weights. Now, on an inhale, extend the legs out, as straight as possible, and simultaneously lift the hands over your head. On the exhale, bring the knees back towards the chest and the hands into the chest, back to Navasana. Repeat it at least 8-10 times to begin with and then gradually increase.
Malasana- Garland Pose with Bicep curls
This one is relatively easy. Get into Malasana and make sure that your knees are directly stacked over the ankles. This is to ensure that your knees don’t bow inwards as you bend.
Now, that you are settled in the pose, take a dumbbell in each hand, bringing your arms down to the sides and keeping the elbows slightly bent. On an exhale, curl the dumbbells towards the shoulders. Here, make sure that you do not move your elbows with you (this is the most important aspect of the curls). On the inhale, lower the weights to the sides. Repeat this for 8-12 times.
Note: In Malasana, your feet must be at least 3 feet apart and the feet need to be turned to a 45-degree angle.
Vashishtasana- Side plank with flies
From Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog) get into Vashistasana (Side plank pose) by shifting on the outside edge of one of your foot; here I mention right. Stack your left foot on top of the right foot. In a controlled manner, swing your left hand upwards and try to balance the pose on the outer edge of your right foot and right arm. Hold this position to atleast 10 to 15 seconds. This pose itself is a wonderful workout, and adding weights to this, works wonders.
Now, grab a dumbbell in your free hand (left hand). On an inhale, lift the hand upward so that it is directly stacked over the shoulder. Now, exhale and lower the dumbbell without coming all the way down to the mat. Repeat it as many times possible and switch sides.
Note: Here, it is advisable to make sure that the supporting arm isn’t placed directly below its shoulder. Try and place it slightly forward so that there is a micro bend in the elbow.
Do try these (please start slow) and drop a line, so I know how its all worked out for you!